Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours my dear friend. And may the Lord add a special blessing to your day!
Oftentimes, while writing and studying my “This Day in Christian History” section I find nuggets that I research along with the other research that must be done in order to bring you, the reader, the most concise information deemed possible. And on such a trek I came across a 33-page book written by Catherine of Bologna entitled The Seven Spiritual Weapons. I have been trying to complete this book for a month but have been constantly distracted for one reason or another. Finally came to the completion today and would like to share some of my hard-pressed discoveries with you. Please note this book was written over 500 years ago.
Although it seems Catherine was writing this book for her many convent mothers and sisters, she also placed a prayer in its Preface that is for anyone who picks up this book…”With reverence and sweet and gentle love, I pray that Christ Jesus will guard from the sin of unbelief anyone who comes to know this little work which I made with the divine help and not attribute to the vice of presumption nor taken amiss any error in this present little book.” And then refers to herself as a puppy under the table barking. (referencing Matthew 15:27)
She further takes the stance that the prize of triumphant glory can only be received from Christ who imparts this “glory” to those who, for love of him, abandon the vain pleasures of this weary world, subjecting themselves to the rule of reason and abandoning their self will, and take refuge in the safe port of holy religion, offering themselves completely to the will of another and following the way of the most holy obedience and abandoning their own will in all things. But aware that this cannot happen without violence to oneself.
…you must never lay down your arms because your enemy never sleeps.
This “violence to oneself” she is referring to is a continuous battle from the beginning of that choice where you pass through a stormy sea of many temptations and fierce battles and you must never lay down your arms because your enemy never sleeps. And then ascribes it on this wise: “Whoever from deep within her noble and zealous heart wished to take up the cross through Jesus Christ our savior who died on the field of battle in order to give us life, let her first take up the arms necessary for such battles…”
Then gives us a list of the seven spiritual weapons:
- Zeal – Defined as the solicitude of doing good of which the Holy Spirit is to inspire us in good aspirations while our duty is to accept them and put them into operation thus placing us at war with our sensuality, which sets us into variance with our spiritual wills. It is imperative to resist with all diligence and not waste time, without gaining the fruit of good works.
- Mistrust of Self – You must have it affixed to your mind and soul that you could never do anything good by yourself without Christ. Reminding us what Christ spoke, “Without me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NKJV) And the writer adds, “Nor could anyone resist successfully the fury of the infernal enemies for their cunning wickedness.”
- Put one’s trust in God – Not only to put our trust in God but also for the love of Him to fiercely wage battle with great readiness of spirit against the devil and against the world and one’s own flesh which is given one in order that if might serve the spirit.
- The Memory – The memory of the glorious pilgrimage of that Immaculate Lamb, Christ Jesus, and especially His most holy death and passion. Keeping always before the eyes of our minds the presence of His most chaste and virginal humanity. This is the best means of winning each battle, and without it, we will not achieve victory over our enemies. Every other weapon will achieve little without this one which surpasses all the rest.
- We must die – Remind oneself that we must die. This time is called the time of mercy in which God looks down day after day so that we can amend our lives from good to better. If we do not do this, we will have to render an account, not only of the evils we have done but also of the goods left undone by our negligence.
- Memory of the goods – The memory of the goods of paradise which are prepared for those who lawfully struggle by abandoning all the vain pleasures of the present life.
- The Holy Scripture – With this seventh weapon we can conquer our enemies by the memory of the Holy Scripture which we must carry in our hearts and from which, as from a most devoted mother, we must take counsel in the things we have to do.
And on each of these seven points, Catherine reiterates giving narratives on how each of the main characters was attacked and overcame using these spiritual weapons.
In her conclusion she states. “My sweetest sisters, I have said emphatically that the dowry which Christ Jesus wants from you is that you be vigorous in the battle, that is strong and constant combatants. And admonishes them to use whatever holy means is necessary to accomplish this. And reminds them of what Christ said, “Whoever wishes to come after me, the fount of life, ought to go by the narrow way. (Luke 13:24) And the same way Catherine started with a prayer—she ended with a prayer.
“The peace of Christ, sweet love, be always in your hearts, dear mothers and sisters, and in the hearts of all Christian people through whom and from whom may our true and one God perfect Trinity and the incarnate Word be blessed and praised forever. Amen.”
This book is an in-depth spiritual banquet table from which you can eat healthy portions of wisdom and knowledge taking from it only what you need. Reading this 33-page book of wisdom, with an open mind, will give you some golden nuggets of truth that can really help you on your journey.
If you would like to read The Seven Spiritual Weapons click here.
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